Fantasia Film Review: Psychonauts, the lost children (Psiconautas, los niños olvidados)

(Source: Basque Films)

(Source: Basque Films)

I’m glad to get a chance to review another latin film. This time, directors Alberto Vázquez and Pedro Rivero bring us an animated fable for adults with Psychonauts, the lost children. Leave the young kids at home. Leave the old kids at home too. This is definitely not for kids of any age.

Dinky wakes up every day to insults from her mother and stepfather. She skips school along with her friends Sandra and Little Fox to smoke and grab money any way they can. The fact that Dinky is a cutesy mouse, Sandra is a bunny and Little Fox is a fox cub might look shocking but that’s exactly what this animated allegory is about. Dinky and her friends are actually considered the lucky ones. Living in the garbage are the lost children, the rats both young and old, hunting for copper in the scrap.

Dinky wants out. To do that, she wants to bring along Birdboy. Birdboy can fly, just as his father. He’s also a drug addict and a dealer, just like his father. The police wants to shoot him down, just as they did his father. But Birdboy has a secret to protect and a demon living inside of him. The demon wants to burn it all down. Dinky and her friends have a better plan, they’ll buy a boat and escape this miserable place.

It’s a dark and depressive tale that includes stories that happen everywhere in the world but rarely in an animated film. Birdboy wants to fly free of his demons. Dinky’s parents only approve of her dog of a brother, who licks their faces and barks out that he wants to be an engineer. Sandra has voices in her head that incite her to kill, betray and abandon her friends. In a house where a little pig lives, his mom is bedridden and addicted, the addiction taking the form of a spider that grows and grows each time the little pig gives her mom another shot. All the bullies at school admire the rookie cop who just got his own gun. They want to become cops to have guns too. Oh yeah, cuteness has no place in this island.

Why make this story into a cartoon? Because instead of the usual, idyllic view that a children’s fable show us, this one is the opposite. A harsh, jaded and even violent view of the world, isolated into animation. It’s a confrontational fable in which the toxicity of the world is illustrated without the oversimplification. But there’s a small glimmer of idealism in this world, and when it’s set free you’ll see it glow and fly away on tiny wings.

Highs: A fable for adults in which a world of harsh and ugly truths are highlighted instead of hidden. Using characters borrowed from children’s book, we illustrate misery and hate instead. There’s a glimmer of hope at the end.

Lows: It might be too depressive for some audiences.

Recommended for the grown up crowd. Kids and adults that believe that cartoons are for kids might want to skip this one.

That will do for now.

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